Entertainment: As Jimmy Perez quits, here’s why Shetland won’t ever be the same again

Glasgow actor Douglas Henshall to depart popular BBC crime drama Shetland

  Glasgow actor Douglas Henshall to depart popular BBC crime drama Shetland The Glasgow-born actor debuted the role of DI Jimmy Perez on BBC One in 2013 in the first TV adaptation of the award-winning novels by crime writer Ann Cleeves. After nine years in the role, Henshall has made the decision to depart Shetland at the end of its seventh series, which begins this August, to explore other acting opportunities. The crime drama, which also features Scots actors Alison O'Donnell and Mark Bonnar, will return for an eighth series in 2023, with a new lead and further casting to be announced in due course, the BBC confirmed.

Douglas has now left the show (Picture: BBC) © Provided by Metro Douglas has now left the show (Picture: BBC)

‘A world without Jimmy Perez isn’t one’ Meg (Lucianne McEvoy) or any of us want to live in, but it’s one we’re going to have to get used to as tonight’s finale of Shetland also marked Douglas Henshall’s exit from the BBC One drama.

Now, it’s important to say – in case you weren’t already aware – I love television shows and can safely say I’ve watched enough crime dramas to estimate the structure of an arc when tuning into something new, so watching Jimmy investigate the death of Alex Galbraith, I sort of knew what was ahead. Jimmy and his team would gather evidence, look at the suspects, point their fingers at absolutely the wrong person and then realise the answer had been under their noses the entire time.

Shetland viewers left distracted by confusing detail in episode four

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However, while watching series six, I came to realise that Shetland is so much more than just another television crime drama.

Last year, as well as following Alex Gailbraith’s murder, we were also re-introduced to Donna Killick, and you’d only really know her if you had watched her story leading up to her return.

Duncan and Jimmy’s relationship was one we barely ever see on screen (Picture: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz) © Provided by Metro Duncan and Jimmy’s relationship was one we barely ever see on screen (Picture: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz)

Donna Killick was responsible for the murder of Lizzie Kilmuir and also had an affair with Duncan (Mark Bonnar), Jimmy’s best friend.

Her journey back to the island sparked protests among the residents – largely due to the fact she hadn’t served her full sentence behind bars – but ultimately, it put our protagonist’s future in serious danger, and it was this arc that helped me understand the success of Shetland has always been because of the main leads and one very important factor: history.

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If the members of Jimmy’s police team continuously changed throughout the years, writers David Kane and Paul Logue wouldn’t have been able to air Donna’s story. It’s because of the genius character development, the decisions Sandy (Steven Robertson) made a few years ago or Duncan’s past attempts at caring for or protecting someone he loves (albeit in a haphazard way) that saw Jimmy, Sandy, Duncan and even Tosh’s (Alison O’Donnell) lives turned upside down come the finale.

Putting the spotlight on just Jimmy Perez, I suppose what made him so different from other TV detectives is that he was just well, very real.

He wasn’t exactly haunted by a dark secret that would later connect him to a case and force him to act shifty and strange throughout (*ahem*, The Suspect), he was constantly out of his depth looking after daughter Cassie (Erin Armstrong), cared deeply for Tosh and Duncan and – up until the finale – found it incredibly difficult to move on following the death of his beloved wife, Fran.

Shetland: Where is the BBC One series filmed?

  Shetland: Where is the BBC One series filmed? This is Douglas' final season of Shetland.The blockbuster crime drama, which is adapted from Ann Cleeves novels, has been a huge hit with viewers since landing on our screens in 2013.

Jimmy’s relationships with Tosh and Duncan were something we barely ever see on television – and that was so refreshing, which certainly makes me question what the future of the show looks like now we won’t see these relationships on screen.

The love and compassion Jimmy and Tosh or Jimmy and Duncan had for each other, the challenges they faced together, not to mention the incredible chemistry and connection they all had – that is what I will miss most about this era of Shetland.

A moment to appreciate Tosh’s character development (Picture: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz) © Provided by Metro A moment to appreciate Tosh’s character development (Picture: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz)

Relatable, layered and sometimes a tiny bit troubled characters are what we really all fall in love with when watching any television drama or soap. Shetland isn’t like Line of Duty, or Bodyguard or Triggerpoint – it’s a drama with less production, yes, but that plays to its advantage by putting a stronger focus on the character’s lives and in turn, creates a bigger, more memorable impact on the audience rather than a show on ITV that features a bomb explosion once every two parts.

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Despite the frustration I sometimes felt when watching Jimmy commit to a relationship with Meg (seriously, he really took his time), I never wanted him to fail. David Kane had built this character who lived for his work, was able to arrest a killer or kidnapper and in doing so, make someone else’s life a bit easier, but found seeking out his own happiness the biggest challenge of them all.

Come the final scenes in tonight’s episode, I was emotional for Jimmy after watching his life unfold over the past few years. The liberation he felt when telling Meg that he was done putting his job first was powerful, I don’t quite know if things would’ve been the same if Douglas Henshall hadn’t been cast in the role.

Of course, I cannot write an article about Jimmy’s exit from Shetland without talking about Douglas – there is no other way to describe him other than magnificent. It takes a certain type of actor to tell the audience how a character is feeling without barely saying a word. The simple raise of an eyebrow from Douglas, nod or the crack of a small smile encapsulated Jimmy’s mood – dialogue wasn’t always needed.

I’ll still tune into Shetland when it returns for series eight, but the show won’t ever be the same again.

It will be interesting to see how Jimmy’s friends and colleagues have adapted to him no longer being the ‘town sheriff’ and it of course leads me to wonder just who will be?

As Jimmy Perez quits, here’s why Shetland won’t ever be the same again

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The beauty of Shetland was that the continuation of Jimmy, Tosh, Duncan, Sandy and Billy’s (Lewis Howden) lives is what we loved to catch up on.

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While it is only Jimmy that has left (as far as we know), a brand-new lead will cause the foundations of the show to change dramatically. Will it be a new detective who isn’t from the Shetland Islands or Scotland? A detective who is somewhat a fish out of water moving to the isolated town?

There is a lot to think about and for this upcoming series a lot of risks will have to be taken – I can only hope it will be just as successful.

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